COLUMBUS, Ga. — A survivor of domestic violence is sharing her story exclusively with News 3. Glenda Lee spent 17 years in an abusive relationship. Two years later, she says there’s hope for others in her shoes.
There wasn’t much help for Lee when she tried to get out of her abusive relationship in rural Alabama. Since moving to Phenix City a few years ago, she’s escaped abuse, heartache and relational turmoil. Now, she’s sharing her story of recovery in the hopes of inspiring others.
“It’s been by the grace of God that I’m still alive,” Lee said.
Lee says she met her abuser when she was just 18-years-old. She remembers being naive and deceived by what the man could buy and do for her.
“I was dependent on the guy because I was so young,” Lee explained. “I decided to just try to work things out and be there for the kids. But then things started getting worse and worse.”
Lee says despite the domestic violence, she wanted to hold her family together. But when she saw her kids reaping the negative benefits of being exposed to domestic violence, that weighed on her decision to leave her abusive relationship. But her breaking point came when her abuser continually threatened her life.
“I was choked to the point that I stopped breathing,” Lee said. “It was like I blacked out. All I could see when I opened my eyes was him standing over me calling my name. I [also] had a gun point pointed to my head. It was cocked with his finger on the trigger.”
Lee says that breaking point brought her to a crossroads in her life.
“[Do] you want to be alive and be at peace, or [do] you want to be possibly dead one day keeping your family together when you know they’re in an abusive relationship?”
Lee tells News 3 the friends she made in church helped her on the road to recovery. She urges people to get negative voices and influences out of their lives and to replace them with people that encourage victims to seek help.
Lindsey Reis helps domestic violence victims get the resources and services they need at Hope Harbour. Hope Harbour is one of many shelters across the Chattahoochee Valley that focuses on helping victims of domestic violence. Reis says everyone has a part to play in helping victims, and it all begins with making a simple commitment.
“Support them,” Reis said. “Let them know that you’re there. Don’t ever ask ‘why don’t you leave?’ Because at that point, the victim will probably shut you out.”
Reis says people often forget there’s a strong romantic feeling in the early stages of many relationships. But things can turn sour in a heartbeat. She adds that with the rise of social media, domestic violence has increased among teens and young adults. Electronic mediums and instant feedback give young people more of a platform to potentially be destructive verbally, mentally, and emotionally. Reis says Muscogee County has the second most reported homicides linked to domestic violence. In 2015, Columbus Police received 3,000 reports of domestic violence. Reis says this represents about a quarter of the total number.
Deb Mccranie is a therapist with the Pastoral Institute. She says bucking the trend of violence is easier said than done.
“We need to stop hurting each other and start listening to each other,” Mccranie said. “Reaching out is hope, and it’s not a weakness. It’s a strength.”
Glenda Lee hopes more people will listen to her story and end a growing trend. She will hold the Overcomer’s Symposium March 11 at 6 p.m. It well be held at Community Outreach Church of Columbus, located at 5210 Armour Rd.